Saturday, November 16, 2013

This Old Lap Top

Resolving issues with an old laptop

I wanted a lap top.  I didn’t care if it was old and had minor wear, just to be easily portable and function so that I could take it to the few times that I meet with someone and might have need of such a thing while away.

I was fortunate enough to get a hold of a laptop this year for $49.  If you’re wondering it’s a Dell Latitude D600, 1.4 GHz, I GB memory, 40 gig hard drive, Wi0Fi, DVD/CD/RW and the AC adapter.  I was told that the battery most likely would not hold a charge.  I came loaded with windows XP.

My original thought was to replace XP with a different operating system.  I tried a few live cds, or should I say flash drives so could test run them first and noticed that many of them would not operate.  I’ve heard that sometimes certain distros will not work in certain machines but had no idea what the underlying reasons were here.  My first successful launch was with Peppermint (version 2) which ran live without a hitch.

I did not know what the cause was for the failure of so many other distros and the success of Peppermint2.  I tried another distro and got a couple lines of explanation on the screen:

“This kernel requires the following features not present on the CPU: PAE”

...So my Central Processing Unit (CPU) can not handle Physical Address Extension (PAE).
PAE is a feature to allow a 32-bit x86 unit to access a physical address space larger than 4 GB.  It looks like most  of the newer kernels are PAE enabled and they would need a CPU that can also support PAE.  
Okay I get it now.  That explains why Peppermint2 works on the machine, but newer Peppermint4 that is PAE enabled will not.

So my next step is to consider some of the distros out there that I believe will be compatible.  This is some I’ve come up with:

Peppermint 2 (which is not their current edition)
SolydK or SolydXK
Linux Mint Debian Edition
All of this may not matter much with the purchase of newer machines as 64 bit machines are much more common now, but this info may be helpful if you are trying to install on an older machine.


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